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GPs’ open letter to EMIS: ‘drop your survey on charging for GP services’

1 November 2018

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Tower Hamlets GP practices have written to EMIS Health, asking why the company is surveying patients about their willingness to pay for GP services and private healthcare and urging them to stop. Read the letter in full.
Tower Hamlets LMC and general practices were very concerned to hear that you had used your Patient Access platform to survey the views of patients as to whether they supported charging for GP services and privatisation of the NHS.
We find this survey particularly shocking as in East London we were early adopters of EMIS nearly 30 years ago, because of the quality of the system in promoting high quality comprehensive NHS general practice in our area, something which has been key to its widespread adoption.
We are against charging for GP services and against privatisation of the NHS, in step with the Representative Body of the BMA which voted, yet again at its annual meeting this year, not to introduce charging for GP appointments. The motion was rejected overwhelmingly.
Charging is an ineffective and inefficient way of providing comprehensive health care. It is inequitable and unnecessary. The UK is a rich country which can afford to provide a publicly provided, publicly funded NHS, free at the point of delivery. Despite what politicians would have us believe, the evidence is strong that the NHS is also the most cost effective health care system in the developed world.
We are very disappointed that EMIS are adding fuel to the fire of those who wish to destroy the NHS
Charging would usher in a multi-tiered health system and exacerbate the inverse care law, providing access to health care for the more affluent at the expense of those who are worse off and who need health care more, with serious effects on the overall public health of the UK.
We are very disappointed that EMIS are adding fuel to the fire of those who wish to destroy the NHS. Responsible people should not pander to the narrative that the NHS is unaffordable and unsustainable without payment or privatisation when clearly this is not the case.
The NHS has served us well for seventy years, it is not perfect, but it is the best and most equitable health care system in the world and befits us as a civilised country that no-one has to worry about the cost before they consult a GP.
As long-standing EMIS users we are interested to know who has commissioned this survey and to what ends, and urge you to stop the survey and to destroy any data that you have collected so far.
Yours sincerely
GPs and practice staff,
Albion Health Centre
Bethnal Green Health Centre
Blithehale Health Centre
Brayford Square Practice
Bromley by Bow Health Centre
City Wellbeing Practice
Crisp St Health Centre
East One Health Centre
Gough Walk Practice
Harley Grove Health Centre
Jubilee Street Practice
Limehouse Practice
Merchant Street Practice
Ruston Street Health Centre
St Andrews Health Centre
St Pauls Way Health Centre
St Stephens Health Centre
Stroudley Walk Health Centre
Tredegar Practice
Wapping Health Centre
XX Place Health Centre
EMIS Group provided the following statement to our sister publication Pulse: As a company founded by GPs that has supported primary care for the last 30 years, EMIS Group is absolutely committed to the NHS and the excellent, free, healthcare it delivers.
The digital healthcare landscape is moving at pace and Patient Platform Ltd (a part of EMIS Group) undertook the survey of consenting patients to find out about their attitudes to healthcare in 2018. It was designed to give a snapshot of opinion across a broad range of topics including new and emerging services (such as pharmacy delivered care).
We recognise that aspects of the survey were poorly expressed. The survey stopped running earlier this month and the data is for internal use only at Patient Platform and will not be shared with any third parties.
This letter was first published on our sister publication Pulse.